Urban transport systems set for Sh35bn upgrade


Kenya is planning to revamp the rail network due to the high cost of road transport. PETERSON GITHAIGA

After years of chaos in the city public transport, the government is putting in place a Sh35 billion plan to regulate the sub-sector.

Funded jointly by the World Bank (Sh25.2 billion) and the Kenyan government (Sh9.6 billion), the project that is taking off next year will take care of, among others, roads expansion, bus fares, financing and traffic management.

A National Metropolitan Transport Authority (NMTA) will be created to coordinate the policy shift and regulate public transport within the city.
“With this project, the process of reforming the urban transport has just begun, and its ultimate success will require widespread community support,” said Josphat Sasia, National Urban Transport Improvement Project team leader.

“Developing public transport systems that move large numbers of commuters will relieve the worsening traffic congestion and improve the local business climate,” said Mr Sasia

NMTA will oversee the implementation of the planned Nairobi Urban Transport Improvement Project that includes the upgrade of JKIA -Museum Hill-Rironi Road to a six lane road.

It will also finance the building and operation of new rapid bus and rail transport systems to increase the volume and speed of passenger and freight services around the country’s urban areas.

Mr Gilbert Arasa, an executive engineer with the Ministry of Roads, said tendering for the project will be done next year.
The World Bank last week confirmed the release of the money for the project.

Mr Arasa said there is a planned duelling of Outer Ring Road in Nairobi at a cost of Sh6 billion starting next year.

“The project is geared at stimulating economic activities by speeding up transport of goods and services,” he said.

Other projects in the pipe line are the Haile Selassie-Ring Road-Pumwani junction and the Ring Road-Ngara-Juja Road-Komarock Road to Kangundo Road junction, which are expected to remove roundabouts to ease traffic congestion.

Rising urbanisation and high economic growth has led to increased traffic congestion that is costing the country billions of shillings in man hours. The move is expected to improve Kenya’s competitiveness in the region as a key investment hub.

“By helping to ease traffic congestion and developing a modern commuter system, this project will enable Nairobi to remain a great city in which to live and to do business,” said Johannes Zutt, World Bank country director for Kenya.

“Developing countries like Colombia, Mexico and Nigeria have embraced mass public transit systems as they transitioned to middle-income status, and it is now time for Kenya to follow their example,” said Mr Zutt.

The Bank has invested another Sh80 billion ($960m) in the country’s Northern Corridor Transport Improvement Project, and Sh25.2 billion ($300m) in the Kenya Transport Sector Support Project.

Together with other development partners like African Development Bank, the European Union and China, the World Bank is helping Kenya to modernise its transport system and to remove barriers to allow a more dynamic business climate in the wider East African region.

The new project is financed by the International Development Association, the World Bank’s zero-interest fund that has a repayment period of 40 years with a grace period of 10 years.

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